Saturday, July 14, 2012

Finding a barber in Amsterdam

One thing that I've never been able to get sorted out in the year plus since I've moved to Amsterdam is where to get my hair cut. I've gone to herenkapsalons (sort of dutch barbers), hipster hair places recommended by my co-workers and, most often, to a Moroccan barber that's not too far away. Each of these places has their own set of issues, ranging from price to a language barrier to simply bad haircuts.

After my last mis-adventure I was convinced that this was a solid unmet business opportunity. There's got to be lots of people like me who would love a good guy's barbershop. Unfortunately, I don't know the first thing about cutting hair, so I'm likely not about to make a career change.

I was very excited the other day when I saw a very cool looking barber shop opening just south of Haarlemerdijk, not too far from me. They advertised shaves and trims in a well designed space. Oddly, they just named the shop Barber - nothing more. Clear, I suppose, but not terribly creative.

I popped in there today asking for a haircut. I was informed that they only did buzzcuts, not actually proper haircuts. I misinterpreted things and thought that the woman (can't remember her name, but she was very friendly and nice) meant that they just did trims with electric razors. Seeing that I just needed a bit of a touch-up I said I was in and returned a little later.

The first good sign was that they said their coffee machines was down, but offered me a beer instead. Nice. I've never been offered a beer in a barber before. And the interior design is great. Very simple and clean but masculine. Fabulous leather chairs. And electrical wiring running through exposed copper piping attached to the ceiling. Just a great looking space. If you're in the neighborhood it's worth checking out.

Once I'd settled in the barber took the electric razor, showed me the length she was going to use, then proceeded to trim the sides and back. Then she went right over the top. Yikes! I don't have much hair to spare. Most of it on top disappeared when I was in my early 20's. And now I watched what was left hit the floor. After the first swipe there was nothing to do but keep going.

Fortunately, the barber was so nice that I couldn't be upset. Besides, I think she'd been pretty clear, I simply had understood. (Not uncommon for me around here.)

On the positive side, they do great beard work with a straight razor. I don't get shaved very often. It's a bit terrifying having a blade held to your throat. But she took her time and cleaned me up nicely.

So I still haven't solved the mystery of where to get my hair cut in Amsterdam. But at least I wont have to worry about it for a while. Not until some of it grows back at least.

Here's the sad remnants from the top of my head.

If you're in need of a shave in Amsterdam head here - or visit them on Facebook

If you're in need of a great barbershop to get a haircut, I can't help you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Garbage collection - My apologies to the Dutch

Several months ago, when I was living in De Pijp, I wrote a post about how I couldn't understand how the locals were able to stand the volume of garbage that was strewn about their streets due to the lack of efficient garbage collection mechanisms. In particular, I believe I commented on how surprised I was that a country that seems so ingenious in so many ways hadn't sorted out a better solution.

I clearly owe someone an apology.

Last Autumn I moved to a building near the IJ in a place called Silodam. It's a lovely spot, but if everyone just left their garbage on the street it'd be anarchy. So there, and in many other places all around the city, (and I'm sure around the world - I just don't pay much attention to garbage collection when I'm travelling, and they don't have this system anywhere that I've lived before) they've come up with a very clever solution. Garbage disposal units that are small and handy at the top, but that are buried into the ground with a large reservoir. So the garbage truck comes by, grabs the top, and pulls the whole big thing out. Pictures below tell a better story than I'll be able to.

It looks good. It's convenient. It keeps the garbage from blowing around the streets. It's brilliant. A better system than I've ever seen before.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Disposing of trash while cycling

I love these garbage cans that they've put alongside the cycle paths in the Netherlands. They're angled just perfectly so you can toss your trash in while riding past at a high speed. Because you wouldn't want to have to slow down to dispose of whatever garbage it is that you have in your hand while riding your bike in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day trip to Haarlem

Today was the first Sunday since we got our new bikes when we've been in town and it hasn't been raining, so it was time to take them out for their maiden voyage. We rode over to Haarlem, which is far enough to be a ride, but not so far as to be a problem if we have mechanical difficulties.

Haarlem is lovely. It's got all the personality of Amsterdam, but in a much smaller package. The canals are beautiful and there are the same sorts of architecture.

We had intended on going to the main church, De Grote of St. Bavokerk. Ironically, it's closed on Sundays, so we lost out there.

However, we did go to the Teylers Museum. This place was fantastic. It has an eclectic mis of wonderful stuff including two rooms full of fossils, ancient scientific equipment, 17th century Dutch art, coins and right now an amazing temporary collection of Dutch history represented through medals. Super interesting, even if most of the exhibit descriptions were in Dutch. I can't wait to take my niece and nephew there, particularly so Cameron can see the fossils and crystals.

Plus, the building itself is beautiful.  A few photos: